Friday, March 05, 2021 

NY Vulture's sloppy history of Scarlet Witch and Vision in the late 80s-early 90s

NY Vulture wrote about the publication history WandaVision appears to be drawing from after 8 episodes: the time John Byrne scripted West Coast Avengers for about a year or so in 1989-90, and, while it may be one thing to reverse the birth of Wanda's children with Vision, it was another to turn her into a madwoman, though the real problem here is that the writer has a very slapdash grip on what followed afterwards:
...At the very end of “Previously On,” viewers were treated to the sight of what appeared to be Vision’s reassembled original body, now pure white, as it was activated by S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward. This form of Vision has a comics history of its own, as a creation by John Byrne meant to specifically distance the character from his relationship with Wanda; there, it was the result of a disassembly, complete with his original programming being erased. When he was restored shortly after, it was without the emotional components copied from fellow Avenger Wonder Man, resulting in a colder, more robotic personality.

It was a somewhat misogynistic story line, one that heaped trauma and mental instability upon Wanda, forcing her to endure the loss of her children and her husband, followed by the reveal that those things had never been real to begin with but rather illusions born of her desires. Vision would eventually be restored to his normal form, but the damage was done, and so was his relationship with Wanda. He went back to being a regular superhero, while Wanda was demonized for her struggles with mental health, written as a sobbing, hysterical stereotype who committed progressively horrific crimes as the years passed.
You could say the Byrne storyline suffered from potential misogyny, or at least a ludicrous, overbearing focus on turning Wanda into a self-pitying mess, culminating in her going back into association with Magneto briefly, and a scene where she scratched Wonder Man across his chest after paralyzing him and a few WCA team members. But at the time, that storyline was put to an end when Roy and Dann Thomas were taking up the writing shortly after, and it wasn't until Brian Bendis got his mitts on the Avengers franchise that he just had to drag out the kind of story elements nobody finds appealing in the long run, and turn her into a mental case again, instead of a girl who could keep her head screwed on tight. I don't know if this derived from Phoenix influence, but I do know the way it was handled did not have to be, and nor for that matter did this ambiguous distortion of how things were handled as the years passed. Mainly because the article has such a non-committal feeling to it, like they're drifting away from being seriously objective about a problem that could've been avoided. It continues:
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has already started to adapt that aspect of her character, what with the events of Captain America: Civil War and Wanda’s subsequent house arrest, followed by a turn as a fugitive. It’s hard to say where character arcs will go once the series concludes, but WandaVision, at least, seems to be putting work into giving Wanda a sense of agency. Make no mistake, her usurpation of the lives of Westview’s residents is still an act to be condemned, but it’s a far cry from some of the atrocities her comic-book counterpart has been responsible for. Additionally, while it’s true that she’s still created illusory children, she’s aware of this. That’s a significant point; no longer are these simply things happening to her; they’re manifested extensions of her attempts to process an immense amount of grief. Similarly, what seemed early in the season to be a violation of Vision’s explicit wishes upon his death turned out not to be the case; as “Previously On” confirms, the Vision that exists inside of her hex bubble around Westview is born entirely of her memory and power, created from thin air.
And here, unshockingly, they fail to distinguish between bad writing and a fictional character. All this in an article about a character who's depicted suffering mental insanity. Who's the real nutcase then?

And this only enforces my decision not to grant any audience to WandaVision. I'm not awarding Bendis after the serious damage he caused, which the MSM now compounds through their distortions and acceptance of badness. It goes without saying all these live action TV shows and movies can't and shouldn't replace the original four color stories from better eras either.

Update: since the Phoenix was mentioned, I found an article on The Direct with something most unpleasant to tell about episode 8:
And while it is still unknown the specifics of what that title means in the lore of witchcraft in the MCU, it is implied that Wanda is the embodiment of a dark force that has been feared throughout history.

This is a vintage MCU twist on a classic comic book property that no one saw coming, but it does draw some parallels to The Dark Phoenix Saga. That story has been adapted twice in FOX's X-Men franchise over the past two decades and has faced criticism of execution. Here is a look at the similarities and differences between FOX's Jean Grey and the MCU's Wanda Maximoff.
It's not often I feel such disgust washing over me. Again, this merely enforces my decision to avoid this TV show like the plague.

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Thursday, March 04, 2021 

More about DC's abuse of Alan Scott

The Green Lantern franchise may be one of DC's most abused for the sake of ideology, and in this Games Radar/Newsarama article, the news site helps the publisher and writer James Tynion, who's homosexual himself, continue to shovel that propaganda down everyone's throats:
In 'Green Lantern: Alan Scott' by writer James Tynion IV and artist Stephen Byrne, Alan, one of DC's oldest superheroes, comes out to his adult children Jade and Obsidian.

Despite the universe-threatening supervillains he's faced for decades, Tynion's story reveals a man who has to gather the courage to say it aloud.
But not try to change, overcome or abandon it, right? Nothing but a disfavor to the memory of Bill Finger and Martin Nodell, exploiting their creation for the sake of shoddy ideology and lifestyle beliefs.
"Back in an earlier time, I kept a part of myself hidden from my friends and peers," Alan begins. "I even let myself get married a few times to women I did love with all my mind, but I did that knowing there was something about myself I was hiding away."

Obsidian, who clearly already knows what Alan is trying to articulate, encourages him to just say the words.

"I'm gay," Alan reveals.

While Alan's truth comes as a surprise to an unequivocally supportive Jade, his story has slowly been revealed to DC readers over the last decade.
If memory serves, when Judd Winick was working in comicdom and assigned to GL for at least 2 years, he put words in Jade's mouth, telling Kyle Rayner that nothing was wrong with a homosexual teen named Terry Berg. Whether or not that's still canon, the way they depict her here, feeling surprised, sounds awfully strange, like Tynion's trying to make her sound stupid. Predictably, Obsidian remains homosexual in this rendition, no thanks to Dan Jurgens, who may have been responsible for that shift as early as 1994 (although, as noted further down, it may have actually been a certain other writer, much worse, who was responsible, and the name given is a really startling eyebrow raiser). Equally insulting is the use of "reveal" instead of retcon, and I think Alan was only married to two women, one being Rose Canton/Thorn, Jade and Obsidian's parents, and then Molly Mayne/Harlequin. And this direction is decidedly insulting to the writers who had Alan marry Molly in the past few decades, as it sounds like he no longer is. Now, here's Tynion's excuses for this drivel rendition:
Tynion tells Newsarama there are a few answers to the question of why he decided to approach the classic Alan Scott from this direction, and why was it important for him to include this story in Infinite Frontier #0.

"First off, there was a promise made a number of years ago when the Earth 2 books were coming out as a part of the 'New 52'," Tynion says. "That's when the Earth 2 version of Alan Scott came out and the DC publisher made the promise that Alan Scott, from here on out, would be a queer character across the DC Multiverse and the premiere gay male hero of the larger DC mythology.

"As we started bringing back the classic version of the Justice Society and we started down the road that we knew was going to end with a reunified history of the DC universe, a history that has the Justice Society back in the '40s, that has Infinity Inc. popping up as the next generation of the Justice Society, and all of the relationships that came out of that, it was really important to me that this promise be kept."

"I was thrilled to bring this moment to life with the incredible Stephen Byrne, who I've wanted to work with for years," Tynion continues. "He brought the pathos needed to do it right, and help introduce a whole new generation to Alan Scott, Jade, and Obsidian."

Tynion explains to us that when he was approached to write a story for the Green Lantern 80th Anniversary special last year ("which had amazing art by Gary Frank," he says), he was eager to take part and wanted to use the story to "cement who the new present-day version of Alan Scott is going to be."

"Once we started setting up Infinite Frontier and I started hearing Alan Scott would be a character who would continue to play into the central through-line of what's building out of Infinite Frontier, as a queer, male creator I wanted to make sure that some of the pieces landed in a way that opened up the most story potential, and would also embrace all of the complexities of what being a queer man who couldn't come out for most of his life would be, even in the crazy world of superheroes," he explains.
As expected, what we have here is an entitled ideologue shamelessly appropriating other people's creations and forcing his beliefs and lifestyle practices onto them, all under the confidence that, because this is a corporate owned publisher, he can get away with anything, and according to modern PC standards, depicting the characters as the simpler figures they once were is not allowed. Notice how he babbles about a "promise" made? Apparently his idea of how to ensure damage will be compounded to suit his vision. Was this promise also made to Roy Thomas, who was dismayed a decade ago? Since there's no mention of Thomas here and whether Tynion understands how the veteran feels, I guess that says all we need to know what Tynion and interviewer think. No wonder they don't belong in this business.
"One thing that I was really, really adamant about was this: I heard some casual conversations about how to make it work. Do we erase Jade and Obsidian from continuity, or do we want to tweak them so they're not Alan Scott's children?

"My answer: no. Alan Scott is a queer man who was an adult in the '40s who then had an extended life because of everything that he's been involved with, and there are so many adult queer men with adult children. It's a very human experience."

The writer says he thinks this experience plays into the estrangement that has "always been core" to the relationship between Alan Scott, Jade, and Obsidian.

"And I think it adds a new rich depth to their relationship,"
Tynion says. "And, it opens up a whole new world of stories that I'm really, really excited about. It was me wanting to help land the plane here… to set the groundwork for a whole bunch of new stories, heading into the future."
It adds nothing beyond what we already know, but a cliche that's been forced into mainstream for years on end, at the expense of heterosexuality. When the 2 children debuted in the early 80s, they were anything but estranged from their biological dad, because for years, they'd grown up without him, having lived in foster homes after their mother gave them up for adoption, and Alan didn't know anything about them till they came of age and located him to discuss their assumptions they were his biological children. And I guess Tynion really believes what he says about "only so many" like him being parents? Certainly, there are some (though you could argue it's more a case of their being bisexual). But realizing how these ideologues think, he must believe there's whole populations coast to coast out there in the mold he speaks of, when it's anything but that. Some of the people in the comments section were rightfully dismayed at this latest show of ideological drive, with one saying (to another):
It's not about hate, let's not go there, please. It's just that this is a character from a totally different era that showed no signs ever of swinging that way and Tynion decided he wants to "get with the times" and he completely changed him. Kind of like what Bendis did with Iceman, which was in even poorer taste. And like I said, it's just that DC did this in a very distasteful matter. They pretty much lied when people reacted badly to the whole Alan Scott from Earth-2 being gay, then prepared the way with Taylor's Injustice series, and eventually they got to what people actually feared would happen in the first place.

If this would've happened with a new, progressive character I guess there'd be no reactions. If, say, Punchline is lesbian or bisexual tomorrow no one will bat an eye, trust me. But when a writer decides that 80 years of history of a character is worth nothing solely because he wants to be acknowledged how progressive and woke he is, it does come off as disingenuous.
Correct. These obsessions have to come to an end. Especially the entitlement to classic creations owned by corporations, because that's what got us to this situation in the first place. Somebody else said:
With Alan, I'm bugged about it because his marriage, kids and relationships have always been a massive part of what made him the character he was - if memory serves, Jade and Obsidian are his kids with the Golden Age Rose/Thorn. Then there was his relationship with the Harlequin who eventually became his wife. But now all of this is him basically 'living a lie' for all those decades? For me it just doesn't ring true - it's a little disrespectful to the creators of those times and comes across as a bit opportunistic of Tynion and co at DC.
And this is why Tynion's actions are disrespectful to Finger, Nodell and Thomas. Tynion's another modern propagandist deconstructing past works and putting them back together in a way that doesn't remain true to the original material, let alone sound organic, and again, it's just a tired cliche by this point. Here's another comment:
I'd argue there's a paradox of diversity, so to speak. If every book/team is diverse, then is anything really diverse anymore? Aren't they all pretty much the same, judging by the "diversity" quota? I don't know if I'm making myself clear, I have the idea clear in my mind but maybe I'm not putting it into words how I'd like. Bottom line, if there's a DC team I feel shouldn't have to be confined to the diversity criteria, it's these guys. They're as old school as old school can get and I feel they were better that way. I'm not saying gay people didn't exist back then, repressed or not, I'm just saying that if you're looking to be as true as possible to the era JSA came from, Alan Scott was better off straight. Plus, there was something about him that was special, he was the first Green Lantern, the lantern without the connection to the power battery. Now, after this, most people, especially more young audiences, will know him as the "gay lantern". However I'm looking at it, it just doesn't add up.
I'd say this is another reason anybody who recognizes why it pays to respect the past avoid this rendition. Here's another:
I am a huge JSA fan. Been reading them for years. The All Star comics revival, All star squadron, infinity inc, the various crossovers and JSA series, even Alan's solo stories. I collected them all.

Alan's love for his wife was a big plot point in quite a few stories. He became young at one point and then mystically she did too. His relationship with Rose, Jade and Obsidian's mother, however was more of a sexual attraction and fling than a typical relationship. Alan was strongly sexually attracted to her. Molly, his wife, who he was also attracted to was the love of his life. He married her after his fling with Rose who ran off without Alan ever knowing she was pregnant. Now however it is implied he was never attracted to Rose and he cheated on Molly, the love of his life for decades.

I do believe DC wanted a gay character to boost sales. Tynion just chose who. I believe he lobbied for it. I could be wrong but that is the way it seems.

Obsidian as originally written was never gay. He had girlfriends in Infinity Inc. Obsidian was made gay by Gerard Jones in his Justice League run. (Gerard, btw, is currently in prison.) But for some reason it stuck, so now they want to make the father gay too as kind of a story point, which is also, strangely enough, saying homosexuality is genetic.

Obsidian hadn't been in much other than Infinity Inc when they made him gay, and it was pre-internet so no one really cared and if they did it was hard to tell.

As far as Netflix is concerned, it does indeed want diversity in its programs. It believed to be good marketing and profitable. As all things it comes down to money. DC wants more readers, Netflix more viewers. The one problem with randomly making a character gay and ignoring everything else written about them, is that you can't just undo it. It would create an uproar and negative press, unless of course you split him into Earth 2 Alan and original Alan.
Oh yeah, I have no doubt all the leftist SJWs would absolutely dogpile on these companies if they even dared dream of reversing the woke damage they're causing now. That's easily the worst thing about this; when they don't have the courage to climb off the high tree they're on. It practically symbolizes all that's wrong with corporate people in charge of publication that they're such cowards when it comes to SJW mobs and such, quite the opposite of the superheroes in the stories, who're supposed to be fearless. All that aside, it was wrong to retcon Obsidian, as the above-mentioned may have first done in the mid-90s, and all this pandering can't keep going on, as it's only writing the characters into very narrow corners. For now, if DC's coming to a close in publication, this is another reason why it can't come soon enough.

But what an astounding citation of a scribe we have here! Gerard Jones was responsible for Todd Rice's retcon? I know he became the main Justice League America writer in the last 2 years or so of the 1987-96 series published at the time (here's a page for issue 93 where Todd appears), and as easy as it might be to assume Jurgens was responsible, as I first did, I may have to look around in the future for material written by Jones to determine if he could've preceded Jurgens in any steps taken, whereupon, if it turns out Jones was the guilty party, I'll owe Jurgens at least half an apology (though given the political propaganda he's injected into his writings of recent, that's why it's hard to consider a full one). IIRC, Jade and Obsidian turned up in the 18th issue of GL vol.3 written by Jones in 1991, and I'll say this much: I'm disgusted with him for making any use of them after all the trouble he caused, just as much as I'm disgusted with the way he wrote Guy Gardner dumping Kari Limbo. I do remember that a character who first appeared in GL back in 1969, Olivia Reynolds, may have later been retconned as bisexual at the time Jones was on board the League titles, and considering what a bad lot Jones is, that's why that'll decidedly be something to disaprove of as well. For all we know, he may be more responsible for much of the negative effects stemming from the 90s than we think. Now, another reader comment:
Therein lies the problem. The fans who know these characters and are passionate about them protest and are dismissed (not saying you. You have been cordial and polite in this discussion) as out of touch, or racist, or homophobic. And the real criticism is ignored or brushed aside.

The new writers need to respect what came before them. Bendis is one of the worst in this respect. They shouldn't bend someone else's creation to fit your mold. If you can't write them correctly, don't use them. Make something new or use a character that has barely been used since the golden age, like Mr Scarlett. Or hell use a public domain character. There are literally 100s of golden age characters with no backstory that could be used for the purpose of Tynion's tale.
An important point made again about Bendis. His retcon to Iceman was one of the most loathsome things he ever did, and an insult to both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. And then, here's an item by somebody who met Nodell:
I got to meet Martin Nodell in person -- I think it was at an Orlando MegaCon, maybe -- not long before he died, and we discussed the origins of his Green Lantern character, and I wondered if it had any origins in Diogenes carrying a lantern around in the daytime, facetiously "searching for an honest man". I seem to recall him saying it sounds like a good idea, but not necessarily agreeing that it was his inspiration for the character.

At any rate, I seriously have to wonder if he would've approved of what was done to his character after he died, and whether or not they deliberately waited until he was dead to do it.
And in response to that:
If he would still want work in the industry he'll have to approve. That's how it works these days. If not, he would get cancelled in two seconds. This is the world we live in.
This too is very perceptive: veterans today aren't allowed to defend how they originally crafted their characters. If Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were the creators of Alan Scott, they'd be villified in 2 seconds flat if they dared raise any objections to what the higher DC echelons did to him. It'd be the same if Superman were the victim. That's how low the Orwellian wokeness atmosphere's sunk to.

In the end, it's terrible how Green Lantern's been sunk by so much political correctness ever since the end of the 80s, and this is just one more nail in the franchise's coffin. First, it was all petty complaints about Hal Jordan lacking fear, despite there being tons of superheroes, even at Marvel, who could be described the same way. Now, the problem is social justice pandering. And it all demonstrates what a sour note DC will end on.

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Does artist Sanford Greene approve of ideologues?

WLTX in South Carolina interviewed artist Sanford Greene, whom they say is paving a path for Black heroes in comicdom. But if the following is correct, he's also, in a way, paving a path for certain leftist ideologues:
Greene's current project is a monster-hunting comic book set in the Harlem Renaissance, titled "Bitter Root." The continuing series was first published in 2018.

In 2020, Greene and writers Chuck Brown and David Walker, were honored with an Eisner Award for "Best Ongoing Series" for "Bitter Root."

The achievement is considered the equivalent of winning a Pulitzer Prize for literature or an Academy Award for the film.
That he's working with Walker, the leftist who made vile statements nearly a decade ago when Axel Alonso was EIC for Marvel and allowed many people under their employ to run rampant at the expense of their reputation, is troubling. Same if Bitter Root is a politically motivated product built on one-sided ideology. On which note, wouldn't you know it, this story is being adapted for the silver screen:
Now, it's all come full circle for the "Bitter Root" team.

Their graphic novel will soon make its way to the big screen, signed by Ryan Coogler, director of the "Black Panther" film. Greene says Coogler owns the right to the "Bitter Root" film.

Greene says this an example of artists feeding off the energy of inspiration.

It's also a nod to why representation matters, seeing Black heroes on the big screen and in comics.

"That's why the inclusion and diversity and all those things matter so much because it's the very thing that's going to spark not only conversations, but it's going to spark innovation."

The comic was created by an all-black team and features mostly black characters. The Washington Post says it embraces "the black artistic creativity of the Harlem Renaissance but also recognizing the racism of the time."

Greene understands and values the weight this kind of story carries.

"We're not doing this because we're angry black men," he said. "We're doing this because, one, it's our truth, but it's a truth in general. This is history that we're using in this. Stuff that people, in general, don't really know a lot about. We're just using it as a backdrop to move this fantastical story along the way as well."
But Walker for one sure sounds like he fits the description of angry, based on his past stories like Occupy Avengers, along with his revolting attitude in past years online. And if people in general don't know about the racism of the early 20th century, has it ever occurred this is because education curriculum in general is very poor? Come to think of it, does Greene think it's right-wingers who don't know? He doesn't improve with the following:
Greene acknowledged the lack of people of color in his industry, but said progress had been made. "It's starting to be very diverse, a lot more than my generation," Greene said. "And definitely anyone before me."
This too is superficial and ambiguous, as it obscures accomplished artists and writers like Ron Wilson, M.D. Bright and Christopher Priest. If you know where to look, you'll find them, yet Greene is making this into a laughable situation again, by failing to acknowledge veterans on the one hand, and apparently dismissing the vitality of merit on the other.
He wants his work to open doors for more artists and storytellers. "The baton is in our hand," Greene said. "We're running with it now. It's up to us, to you know, keep moving it forward."
If he's not willing to open doors for right-wingers, or even Bulgarians, then he fails to convince. However, he may be getting somewhere with the following:
Greene also spoke about the importance of creating characters of color, and said he wants his characters to be roles that people can connect with and have conversations around. "We see you," he said. "We know that this is something that means a lot. It means a lot to us. So if it means a lot to us, we know this is going to mean something to you as well."
This itself is something I can get behind. But the mainstream are failing miserably at following this advice, and would rather shoehorn new characters into an established role with a costume at the expense of the old character, souring whatever entertainment value it might have otherwise. Biggest problem has to be that the superhero roles proper are all that really matter to the mainstream at this point. Exactly why it's better to stick with the indies. But if they're politically motivated, as Bitter Root may be, that's when they falter. Yet that could suggest why it got chosen for movie material. If the whole goal was to produce a story in hopes it'd be adapted the following day, that's hardly the best example to set. Even novels can be undermined by such an approach.

And I wish Greene wouldn't associate with ideologues like Walker. Stories written by people with rabid politics diminish the chances of their stories having any meaning to a wider audience.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2021 

India's biggest comics collector

The Hindu interviewed Arun Prasad, one of the biggest comic collectors over in India, who's working on projects for researching and archiving history of the country's comics:
Collector of comic books Arun Prasad was referred to as an ‘extreme collector’, on a History Channel show, for his collection of 18,000-odd comic books — the result of more than 20 years of travelling, collecting and, most importantly, preserving.

Collecting these India-published comic books — like Phantom, Bahadur, and Mandrake — was initially a way of going back in time, through the pages of his favourite Indrajal comics. “These connect me to my past, I get a bit of my childhood back, through this,” says the Bengaluru-based pannapictagraphist, who is one of the largest collectors of Indian comics in the country. Arun’s search for vintage comics, which started in 1998, today comprises a network that spans across the country — Lucknow, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.
One of his influences was the famous cartoonist Will Eisner:
American cartoonist Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art, which studied comics and their roles seriously, contributed to Prasad’s changed outlook on comics as artefacts. He says, “If we consider comics as sequential art, as Eisner suggests, then we have a history dating back 10,000 years in the rock drawings of Bhimbetka caves. You look at one picture, you’d have no idea what it means unless you see them in a sequence — like you would a comic book. It shows a well-defined story of human beings and their cultural evolution. If there is narrative with illustrations placed sequentially then it is a comic.”
He certainly knew where to look for one of the best veterans of the medium who could give him inspiration to build his collection and expand it to museum exhibits. I wish the guy good luck continuing with his history project for comics from India's industry, many of which surely have plenty of value in that regard.

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Dr. Seuss' own estate publisher slaps him in the face

In news closely related to comics and cartooning, the company in charge of Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel's children's books like Cat in the Hat - some of which were made into at least a handful of animated cartoons in past years - is going to stop publishing at least 6 of his works because of what they perceive as "racist imagery". The AP Wire (via Breitbart) says:
Six Dr. Seuss books — including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo” — will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy said Tuesday.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement that coincided with the late author and illustrator’s birthday.

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” it said.
I just don't see how this is being respectful to the cartoonist himself. He went to all that trouble in his time to craft those books, illustrations and cartoons, and this is how they thank him? What next, will the cartoons Disney filmed based on Lorax and Horton be declared unfit for viewing?
As adored as Dr. Seuss is by millions around the world for the positive values in many of his works, including environmentalism and tolerance, there has been increasing criticism in recent years over the way Blacks, Asians and others are drawn in some of his most beloved children’s books, as well as in his earlier advertising and propaganda illustrations.
Does this include his political cartoons critical of imperial Japan and German National Socialism? They may not actually say so, but it's entirely possible steps like these are being made for serving as a cover for eventually banning Geisel's anti-fascist cartoons as well.
“Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss,” the school district said in a statement.

In 2017, a school librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, criticized a gift of 10 Seuss books from first lady Melania Trump, saying many of his works were “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”
I wonder if this has something to do with the sudden shift? Very strange, since, as the Federalist notes, Barack and Michelle Obama once gave attention to Dr. Seuss, yet Joe Biden seems to have dropped the citations altogether for Reading Across America Day. I guess this is the left's excuse now - if a conservative dares associate with these classics, they'll seek to have them obliterated from popular culture. Besides, there were some white-like characters in the books who looked pretty goofily drawn themselves, so it's not like the Black and Asian characters were the only ones. The animals' design is also worth considering.
Numerous other popular children’s series have been criticized in recent years for alleged racism.

In the 2007 book, “Should We Burn Babar?,” the author and educator Herbert R. Kohl contended that the “Babar the Elephant” books were celebrations of colonialism because of how the title character leaves the jungle and later returns to “civilize” his fellow animals.
I don't comprehend how they can be "colonialism" when it's Jean deBrunhoff's pachyderm hero himself who's basically bringing back values he learned from the human world and encouraging the world of anthropomorphs in his fictional African country to emulate those beliefs in building a modern society for themselves. This is little more than a deliberate misinterpretation for the purpose of discouraging and shunning classic literature for the sake of much duller PC products of modern times.

Of all the cancel culture tactics in the past decade, this is by far one of the most offensive betrayals of a scribe and cartoonist by the very foundation in charge of preserving his works. Especially considering he was on the good side, as the Jewish Press notes:
A champion of the rights of American Jews, Seuss himself experienced anti-Semitism when, in his college days, he was refused entry into certain circles because of a misperception that he was Jewish: “I had black hair and a long nose, and it took a year and a half before the word got out that I wasn’t [Jewish].”

In fact, Seuss was a practicing Lutheran who often spoke out in support of equal opportunity for Jews. As just one notable example, though he supported the establishment by the University of California of a local campus in his beloved La Jolla, where he maintained his mountaintop home, he sternly warned civic and church audiences that they could never develop a great university until they ceased discriminating against Jews, specifically with respect to home ownership.
I think it's clear now why the left wants to get rid of this notable cartoonist's works: because he cared about a certain community, and while not without flaws any more than anybody else, there were themes in his works representing all the left despises. So to them, he can no longer be allowed to serve American iconism.

It's a terrible shame Dr. Seuss is the latest victim - 30 years to the time of his passing - of the PC insanity the modern left is veering for. This should not go unopposed, and anybody who cares should speak out and make clear to his estate and preseving company that this is simply not acceptable, no matter how questionable the illustrations in the specific books are. The schools rejecting his books now must be told the same.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2021 

Milestone cast brought back just so their retconned origins can tie in to BLM

Polygon says the characters from Dwayne McDuffie's Milestone brand of the mid-90s have been brought back just so their origins can be changed to reflect Black Lives Matter ideology:
This week’s Milestone Returns #0 introduces audiences to the characters of Milestone’s new lineup, Static, Icon & Rocket, and Hardware — all available digitally or through a DC Universe Infinite subscription. But it’s been a while since the early ’90s, so The Big Bang, the gang battle/police crackdown that caused an explosion of superpowers among Dakota City’s youth, and turned Virgil into Static, has been reimagined for the modern age. How the creative team reworks the scenario is extremely timely, and compelling.

[...] The Big Bang, origin of all the superpowered Bang Babies, is now a Black Lives Matter protest — and one that mirrors the last year in IRL demonstrations. Just like the Big Bang of the ’90s, police arrive and fire tear gas laced with an experimental chemical that was supposed to help trace all participants to their homes afterward. Instead, it transforms hundreds of teens in unpredictable ways.

And if you’re wondering, no, this story doesn’t otherwise make reference to the coronavirus pandemic: Those face masks are a very deliberate, bold, and effective reference.
Well this sure is disappointing, but hardly a shock coming as it does from ideologues running the asylum, and even when Dan DiDio was still in charge, a lot of this dreck was already turning up. Maybe the most disappointing thing of all is that McDuffie may not have been opposed to it, recalling I once read over a decade ago about a story he contributed to a September 11 special DC published where what could be considered typical citizens of the US were depicted acting awful towards Islamists. Or something like that. If McDuffie was a leftist ideologue, that could dampen the impact of his creations. Even more telling is that there's an award in his name dedicated to "diversity", and the Muslim Ms. Marvel was one of the recipients.

The original 90s material may not have been political per se, but this new material obviously is, and certainly doesn't sound appealing when it takes on such Orwellian proportions, doubtlessly ignoring all the vandalism BLM and Antifa committed in Oregon and Washington. As I may have said before, DC's collapse, if they're on the way to that, couldn't come soon enough.

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New computer technology makes comics from movies

The Hindu reported on a new computer program for making comic panels out of movie footage. But there's a problem based on just who it was who developed the program, or was involved in development:
Producing a comic book is a work of art involving high level of creativity. The whole process of ideating, sketching, colouring, inking and lettering content, can take over eight months. Now that production can be completed in lesser time, and done by artificial intelligence (AI), not humans.

A team of researchers, including those from China’s Dalian University of Technology, has developed an AI system to make comic books from movies and other videos. They have used computer vision, a form of AI, to automate creative tasks, which helps to interpret digital content like images, videos, and graphics.

The team said it derived inspiration from ‘Manga’, a style of comics or graphic novels originating from Japan. The automated system will help professionals develop their own books from videos, movies, TV shows or cartoons.
Much as I'd like to admire this new product, I'm honestly discouraged by the fact that Chinese sources were involved, considering all the trouble they've caused lately on the political scene. If I wanted to build a comics panel program using such technology, how can I possibly support a product made by sources who could be under communist influence? I'm sure that's a question many outraged by what China's incompetence led to are asking right now. I think maybe I'd wait until art programmers in more democratic countries came up with a similar program before making use of this technology.

On its own, the comic-building technology in focus here is certainly inventive. But coming as it does at a time when China's not looked upon positively because of the Covid19 disaster, that's why the timing for its announcement is most unfortunate.

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Monday, March 01, 2021 

Comics Beat defended firing Gina Carano from the Mandalorian

If you're wondering about left-wing specialty news sites defending the dismissal of martial artist Carano from Disney-owned Mandalorian, there's Heidi MacDonald's loathsome site Comics Beat. Most of what they say is pretty cliched, and it goes without saying their alleged concerns about antisemitism are phony:
This is obviously not the first time Carano’s social media posts have come under fire. Last September, she made transphobic comments when she mocked the use of identifying pronouns. In November, she mocked mask mandates and perpetuated the myth of voter fraud. And while these recent offending posts have been deleted from her accounts, the internet is forever. [...]

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Aaron Couch also reported that according to sources, “Lucasfilm planned to unveil Gina Carano as the star of her own show during December’s investor day. They scrubbed those plans after erratic tweets in November.”
Based on Carano's accounts of what goes on behind the scenes, to say nothing of the contempt the producers apparently had for her in the first place, the chances this is true are decidedly minimal. All that aside, they don't defend her right to an opinion, resorting as they do to the now classic accusations of "transphobia" as much as "homophobia", in all their PC mentality. This is another shoddy example of "opinionating" coming from a website whose main founder has been involved in shady activities, and continues with this drivel:
Carano’s Cara Dune was a main fixture of the Disney+ hit show and clearly had the potential to go on to do more within the Star Wars franchise universe. Will they replace Cara Dune’s character with another actor? Given the expansive nature of the universe, it seems highly unlikely. But, whatever plans Disney had for the Alderaanian shock trooper, rumored or otherwise, seem to have firmly been shelved.
As it so happens, it won't be easy for the TV show going forward when people are aware the producers caved to cancel culture over petty issues, and at this point, it could hang over the series' reputation pretty badly, diminishing what entertainment value existed.

Here's more from the awful Beat site, commenting on the cancellation of toy action figures based on Carano's character:
The Cara Dune 6″ Star Wars: The Black Series figure has been available in stores for a few months already, but the announcement that Hasbro won’t be producing any more is certainly a surprise. Incidentally, a new Cara Dune Funko Pop! figure, that was announced among a new wave of Mandalorian products a few months ago, will be available in just a few weeks. While it’s too late for Funko to pull production on those figures, it’s highly doubtful that Carano’s ardent fanbase will purchase them after vowing to cancel their Disney+ subscriptions, so I expect these Cara Dune Funkos to go the way of Jar Jar Binks Phantom Menace merch and fill discount bins.
Hmm, that's a good question. Some will surely want to purchase them in some form or other as an act of solidarity with Carano, but no, it's not like they'll want the studio to profit from them.
Meanwhile, Carano announced on Friday that she is partnering with conservative website The Daily Wire to develop, produce, and star in a movie project. It’s a far cry from headlining your own Disney+ Star Wars original series, but to each their own.
Something wrong with participating in a project led by a site first founded by a Jewish commentator? Or is the writer implying Carano should've literally jettisoned her conservative position for the sake of a shoddy liberal one?

And now, I looked through their database, and found this review of a graphic novel by an Israeli leftist titled "Falafel with Hot Sauce". It begins with this peculiar matter:
When it comes to opinions on Israel, I find that any wider view I might personally hear on the subject is typically drowned out by either American Jews or American progressives and radicals. I suppose it’s natural those would be the loudest of the voices in the debate, but explaining that might also give context to why I found Michel Kichka’s memoir of becoming an Israeli so enlightening. Falafel with Hot Sauce approaches the subject from a personal point of view, offering a memoir of Kitchka’s own experience but framing it as a secular liberal who embraced his new home but found the changes there over the decade to be alarming and demand more of him. In this way, he presents a complicated picture of what it’s like to be a citizen in the country that transcends what reaches my ears typically.
Seriously, this guy has a problem with "progs" and "rads", if you think some slang and figure of speech could describe the above well enough? Well based on the author's ideologies and this later paragraph, that's why any supposed problem with them comes into question:
Kichka recounts his time in school, the beginning of his career as a cartoonist, his marriage and family, and the political actions on the parts of he and his wife, who take their leftist views into different areas of protest, she to the streets and he as part of the group Cartooning For Peace. This group has his traveling and meeting numerous other cartoonists who share in common ruling parties in their own countries who feel threatened by the cartoonists’ work, often imprisoning and torturing them for anything from speaking out against government actions to merely depicting a ruler in the cartoons.

Kichka feels these bonds so strongly because he sees the oppression meted out by his own government in regard to Palestinians, and as part of Cartooning For Peace has worked to break the boundaries that are politically imposed and embrace a middle ground that sidelines the incendiary rhetoric on the far edges of both sides of the conflict. It’s in the autobiographical parts of Falafel With Hot Sauce that readers are offered the experience that led to his calm approach to the issue, in defiance to a historical backdrop of oppression and loss that Jews have felt as part of a diaspora. And that continues, as pointed out in one distressing section near the end of the book where Kichka points out the number of Jewish people he knows who have lost loved ones through anti-Semitic violence. It’s a conflict where innocents suffer on both sides as the dialogue is commandeered by the most politically angry as they seek vengeance and control.
Wow, no kidding, he finds that a valid viewpoint? Because that's what progs and rads of the left uphold; they believe quite literally that Israel is doing nothing more than "oppressing" the "poor and innocent" palestinians, and that includes the kind of so-called Jews who're part of the Biden bunch. Then again, he didn't actually say the above citations were leftists drowning out the wider view, so it's clear he was trying to be evasive in a sense. And was the author Kichka himself ever subject to the depravity spoken about here, as is alleged to have happened with other cartoonists he speaks of? If not, then I'm not sure what this is all about. And it would seem there's no concern or room in such a GN for what the PLO does to subjects who commit the Orwellian Thoughtcrime of selling land to Jews. If the writers in focus have no concern over that, or even about antisemitic crimes like this one, then this clearly indigestible Falefel is a textbook case of one-sidedness of the worst - but no longer shocking - sort. Besides, hot sauce is something I find too nasty for my meals.

And it proves Comics Beat's own issues with Carano aren't genuine ones, seeing how they lavish attention on something harmful to Israel, and the worst part being its crafted by an Israeli descendant indoctrinated in the worst of leftist institutions. But a right-winger's concerns are invalid by contrast. This is another reason why a sick site like Comics Beat shouldn't be taken seriously, and is doing more harm than good to the medium it supposedly represents.

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Far-leftist Ta-Nehisi Coates hired to write a Superman movie screenplay

The last time Superman was in a stand-alone movie was at least 8 years ago, in Man of Steel, which adhered to a darker, more politically correct vision of downbeatness. Now, it appears such a project can't be made anymore unless it's laced with even more political correctness, comming as this new version does in the guise of the propagandist Marvel hired to write Black Panther and Captain America, Ta-Nehisi Coates. The AP Wire says:
Ta-Nehisi Coates, the acclaimed essayist and novelist who expanded the world of Wakanda for Marvel comics, will write the script for a new “Superman” film from Warner Bros.

The studio announced Friday that Coates will pen the screenplay for an upcoming “Superman” film that’s early in development. J.J. Abrams will produce. No director or star has yet been announced.

“To be invited into the DC Extended Universe by Warner Bros., DC Films and Bad Robot is an honor,” said Coates in a statement. “I look forward to meaningfully adding to the legacy of America’s most iconic mythic hero.”
And don't be shocked if that "meaningful" direction is injecting his divisive ideologies into the screenplay. I'm sure there's plenty of people out there who'd really appreciate a Superman movie to balance out the overuse of Batman. Certainly if it's built on the optimism the Man of Steel was most known for in years past. But that's exactly why this news is such a slap in the face, and undoubtably deliberate on the part of the studio, which doesn't desereve to own these famous creations.

Shadow and Act, which first announced the news, says:
We're hearing that no director is attached as of yet and plot details remain under wraps. Additionally, the search for an actor to play Kal-El / Superman hasn't started yet.
There's a rumor they want to cast a black actor instead of a white actor, and Henry Cavill's dropped out of the role. But even if that part is just rumors, Coates' involvement in this project alone is cause for discouragement. Especially when you consider the following:
“Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me opened a window and changed the way many of us see the world,” added Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “We’re confident that his take on Superman will give fans a new and exciting way to see the Man of Steel.”
One can only wonder what WB's chairman thinks of 9-11 and its victims. Does he uphold Coates' offensive drivel about the rescue teams at the World Trade Center? Something is definitely wrong when easily the worst book Coates wrote is the film executive's number one choice for citation. One more reason I'd rather stay away, and why it'll be very hard attending movies and TV show made by this studio so long as such people remain.

Entertainment Weekly, which followed up on the announcement, has easily the most sugarcoated take on Coates' writings:
It's not surprising that Coates is moving into the superhero film space. After making his name as a journalist and writer through his work at The Atlantic and books like Between the World and Me, Coates started writing comics in 2016 with Marvel's Black Panther, a series that influenced the Marvel Cinematic Universe's take on the Wakandan ruler-hero. Then in 2018, he took over the reins on Marvel's Captain America series. That same year, EW named him the best comics writer for his work on both Captain America and the then-outer space set Black Panther. Coates released his first full-length novel, The Water Dancer, in 2019.
I'm sure they're well aware of his extreme viewpoint, coming at the expense of 9-11 victims. That terrible moment in history was surely what precipitated the USA's decline in cohesion, and EW's lending themselves to that effect. I must sadly conclude that, due to the political atmosphere now affecting pop culture, the time for another Superman movie, if there needs to be one, has come much too late, since the ideologues running the asylum have decided to base their decisions going forward on just how far to the left they lean. I may not consider movies as important as the source material, but it's still a terrible shame it had to come to this, and now, a movie project can't be made without basing employment on partisan politics.

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Sunday, February 28, 2021 

Kotaku recommends pretentious Falcon and Winter Soldier stories

The entertainment site Kotaku listed several Marvel books since the mid-2000s featuring the Falcon, which they recommend reading before turning to a new TV show called Falcon and the Winter Soldier. And the following one is something that, no matter what you think of Christopher Priest as a writer, it was appalling for at least a few reasons:
Christopher Priest is a great writer – he’s responsible for most of the things people like about modern Black Panther. This series is worth a read, but it can be a bit uneven at times due to external events messing with Priests’ story and some art that hasn’t aged well.

However, if you can stomach those slight flaws, this is an underrated Captain America comic that does a particularly good job of exploring the friendship between Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson.

The series’ main threat is a twisted version of Cap known as the “Anti-Cap”. He works for the Office of Naval Intelligence, undertaking various black op missions “for the good of the country”, like retrieving a bioweapon that could kick off World War III.
If memory serves, the "anti-Cap" in this story was a villainous character depicted acting as a "patriot" in the wrong ways. According to this sugary Screen Rant article from last year:
Created by Christopher Priest and Bart Sears, the soldier later called Anti-Cap debuted in Captain America and the Falcon #1 (2004), with his limited origin story revealed in scattered flashbacks through the following four issues. Although readers never learned his true name, the man who would become Anti-Cap was once a scrawny Oklahoma boy in love. Unfortunately, his girlfriend and her father were killed in the infamous Oklahoma City bombings, setting the grieving youngster on a path toward fighting those who could commit such horrible acts. Years later he completes his BUD/S training to become a SEAL, but he is denied team assignment due to red flags in his psychological profile (a scene that brings to mind Steve Rogers' failed attempts to enlist). Back to being a citizen, the young man is approached by suit-and-tie government agents who have a... different idea of how he can serve his country.
One which leads to extreme mayhem and casualties, after the chemical experiments go awry. I'm also confused why they say psychological profiles bring Steve's initial failure to enlist to mind, when it was his lack of good strength that did. At the end, it says:
Although he wasn't the first, Anti-Cap remains one of the darkest examples of the quest to develop some of the Marvel universe's ultimate weapons (and the lives wasted in the pursuit). Despite his powers, Anti-Cap's mental issues and dependency on AVX make him nothing more than an unstable super-monster, who doesn't actually care about the rules broken, or the lives lost at his hands in his commitment to fighting a grand war.

Although he admits to admiring Steve Rogers, Anti-Cap considers himself to be the modern day Captain America: unafraid to do what's needed to win. His obsession with winning the war, plus the small yet tragic details of his backstory make him a dark and dangerous re-interpretation of patriotism, and how easily national pride can lead to fascism under the wrong circumstances. All that mattered to Anti-Cap was winning the war... if he had to kill Captain America or the Falcon to do that, he would. Not exactly the kind of legacy Steve Rogers had intended to leave behind, and certainly not the last imitation Captain America to misunderstand the Marvel icon.
All coming from people who don't understand real life issues any more than what Cap was built on. They're perpetuating the notion that anybody dedicated to defeating evil ideologies like Islamofascism is nothing more than a crackpot at worst, and certainly don't do much to make those who wish to rid the world of totalitarian ideologies proud of them. It's vital to note that the terrorist who'd set off the bomb in Oklahoma City had connections with al Qaeda, one more reason why this story is such a slap in the face to victims of terrorism. Let's not forget Priest later brewed up a Justice League story laced with moral equivalence. This is why Priest's whole resume is all over the place in terms of quality, or lack thereof. Add to that how the external events messing with the story happen to be Avengers: Disassembled by Brian Bendis, and the choice of Sears for an artist on its own was a very bad one. I remember some of his art samples from 2 decades ago; it looked like the characters' heads were all puffed up. And to think we wondered how it got to a point where Marvel's recent selection of artists was bad.

The Kotaku article also cites the Sam Wilson book from 6 years ago:
No prize for guessing what this run is about. Steve Rogers has been aged into an old man, so he hands the mantle of Captain America over to Sam Wilson, turning the Falcon into the “soaring Sentinel of Liberty”.

That new title comes with a fair bit of baggage, as Sam now has to throw hands with classic members of Cap’s rogues gallery, like the Sons of the Serpent, Batroc the Leaper, Hydra and Baron Zemo.

This collection is a bit unbalanced at times (there’s a lot of chefs in this kitchen in terms of writers and artists), but overall it does a good job of exploring what it means to be Captain America, a symbol that’s meant to represent an entire nation. Is Captain America a reflection of the United States, or is the United States a reflection of Captain America? Just how heavy is that shield to carry?
Quite amazing how the apologia for illegal immigration and villification of all opposition goes unmentioned here. Is that their definition of the meaning of Cap's role? When they can't clearly describe the plot and script of the book, you know something's wrong.

This is why it's better not to tune in to the TV show in preparation, since it looks like another example of a product based on newer material than older, providing more examples of what's wrong with modern screenwriting. Just like Cap, even the Falcon deserves far better.

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Saturday, February 27, 2021 

Roy Thomas pushes back against Abraham Riesman's pseudo-biography of Stan Lee

Veteran writer/editor Roy Thomas, a protege of Stan the Man in the Silver Age, wrote a guest article at the Hollywood Reporter, where he refutes much of what propagandist Riesman wrote against Lee in his biased "biography". For example:
You think I'm exaggerating when I suggest that Riesman finds gratuitous excuses to favor Jack's version of things over Stan's? I'm not.

For one thing, just a dozen pages into the book, Reisman informs us that Stan "lied about little things, he lied about big things, he lied about strange things," adding that Stan quite likely lied about "one massive, very consequential thing" that, if so, "completely changes his legacy." (By saying "quite likely," Riesman puts the burden of proof on himself to demonstrate that Stan was lying about coming up with the basic idea for some, if not necessarily for each, of the early Marvel heroes — and he never really does. He simply weighs Stan's statements against Jack's, without offering any real evidence that Jack's memories are any more reliable than Stan's. In fact, he will later cite a number of instances in which they are not, but here he tosses in that "quite likely" just the same.)

Then, on the very next page, he puts flesh on his earlier "bullshitter" depiction by writing: "It's very possible, maybe even probable, that the characters and plots Stan was famous for all sprang from the brain and pen of [artist/writer Jack] Kirby."

"Possible," yes. Lots of things are possible. But "even probable"? Why? Riesman never really makes a credible case for that. He merely piles up verbiage and quotations: "He said … he said."

And he weights things toward Jack's viewpoint with statements like the foregoing despite the fact that, for instance, partial synopses written by Stan for two of the first eight issues of the crucial Marvel flagship title Fantastic Four (including No. 1) have been vouched for as existing since the 1960s. Riesman gives a lot more credence than is called for to "a rumor that [Stan's synopsis for the first half of FF No. 1] was created after the comic hit the stands" in August of 1961.

The sources of said rumor? The "significant reason to suspect the synopsis was written after Stan and Kirby spoke" in person about the FF concept? 1: A onetime teenage assistant of Kirby's, who only went to work for him circa 1979, says that Jack "told me that it was written way after FF #1 was published. I believe him." Fine. The guy believes his old boss. But that doesn't necessarily mean we should. And 2: Kirby is quoted as once saying of that synopsis: "I've never seen it, and of course I would say it's an outright lie." So on this occasion, Stan Lee is apparently lying by coming up with that synopsis — but Jack Kirby, who Riesman points out told a whopper or three himself, isn't lying when he says he never saw it? Or, giving both men the benefit of a doubt, couldn't it be that Jack, after several decades, had simply forgotten it?

OK — so Stan Lee personally handed this two-page document to me, as his editorial assistant, sometime in the latter half of the 1960s, only a few years after FF No. 1, at a time when virtually nobody, except me once in a while, was asking him how the Marvel Age of Comics had started, and when there had not yet been any public or private disputes between Lee and Kirby over the creation of the Fantastic Four or other Marvel heroes.

Yet Riesman says it's "maybe even probable" that the Fantastic Four (and much else at Marvel) came solely from Kirby's admittedly fertile brain. Why is it "maybe even probable"? No supportable reason is given.
Sounds like Riesman fudged up quite a few details involving Thomas, who worked with both Lee and Kirby during the 60s, spoke with the latter well into the 80s, and even at the time he was working more for DC, kept in good contact with the former. I won't be shocked if Riesman got little or no input from Thomas for his book, because otherwise, how would he be able to shred a legend's legacy at ease? Here's some more:
While reading Riesman's attempt at a dismissal of this synopsis, I found myself wondering how he was going to handle another noteworthy synopsis I knew of. It was a typed sheet sent circa 1963 to my friend Dr. Jerry Bails, a 30ish university science professor whose avocation was gathering data on superhero comic books. When Jerry asked Stan by mail if he might be sent any artwork or scripts lying around the office for his own small collection, Stan mailed him a piece of paper on which he had typed the synopsis (complete with title!) for the first part of Fantastic Four No. 8, which had been published in '62.

I read that sheet when I visited Jerry in Detroit over Thanksgiving in '63
. While eschewing any actual dialogue and leaving ample choreography for Kirby to do, it is otherwise fairly detailed, complete with Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) trying to stretch his malleable arms far enough to save a man falling from a building but not quite reaching him, so that the Human Torch has to catch him on the fly — while a secondary plotline, woven through the three longish paragraphs, relates how Richards is secretly building a machine he hopes will restore the monstrous, tormented Thing to his true human form. All these things, and others described on the page, are reflected in the comics pages as drawn and published. You could read the synopsis as you paged through the finished comic, and you'd find no major surprises, except that Kirby skillfully covers that material in seven pages instead of 13.

Perhaps the synopsis for the remainder of that story was sent to Jack later and wasn't preserved — or maybe it was merely covered in a follow-up phone call with details left to the artist, since the yarn's ending as printed harks back to a horror story Kirby had drawn in the 1950s. Either way, a good part of the story is nicely outlined on that single sheet — which Bails retyped and published in 1964, and whose verbatim retyping I myself printed in 1998 in my comics-history magazine Alter Ego.

Knowing by this point in True Believer that, whatever his shortcomings as a dependable analyst of "who did what" in the Lee-Kirby relationship, Abraham Riesman was a fairly thorough researcher, I gazed eagerly over the ensuing pages to see if he would claim that, circa 1963, Stan had also "forged" this primary document, as well.

And I found … nothing. No mention of the FF No. 8 synopsis at all.

Three pages of typed-out Stan Lee synopsis material seem to still exist from the first year of Fantastic Four — and Riesman doesn't think one of them is worth so much as a mention?
It's pretty clear at this point Riesman only wrote this faux-bio for tearing down Lee at every conceivable turn, and didn't do any through research on Marvel's archives and those of their contributors. All he cared about was the tabloid news telling about Lee's family life going to hell in a handbasket, and why must we take even that at face value? But it figures the MSM would gobble this all up, because when did they ever truly care about Stan the Man? Only those with contempt would back such an effort to publicize shock value trash.

I'm glad there's a veteran around who was willing to step up to plate and point out all the gaping holes in what's clearly a cynical, disrespectful book that only wants to view Lee as scum. I don't know how much the bio is selling, but I'd strongly recommend not putting any money into Riesman's pockets, seeing how reprehensibly he went about this. And if there's more veterans of the times still around, I hope they'll follow Thomas' example, speak up, and let know why Riesman was wrong to take his contemptible approach to covering a legend.

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Japan's market measures in several billions

The Japan Times tells what the value of their manga industry is worth:
The value of Japan’s comic book market reached a record ¥612.6 billion ($5.77 billion) in 2020, up 23% from a year earlier, backed by the huge popularity of the manga series “Demon Slayer,” industry data showed Thursday.

[...] The value of comic book and magazine sales was estimated at ¥270.6 billion in 2020, up 13.4% from the previous year, while that of digital comics jumped 31.9% to ¥342 billion, the institute said.
That alone has got to be far more than the US industry could. An earlier report I once read stated the US industry makes about a billion dollars annually by comparison. So it continues to be clear manga is leading the way, while US comics continue their decline due to the flood of political correctness washing over them. And I suppose the only way the US industry will respond to this is by going more PC, and possibly even trying to keep foreign comics out of the market? If they do that, they'll be extremely foolish.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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